Inspiring Success: NIEEF CIBC - Nikia Pratt

Scholarship allows Indigenous student to focus solely on his academics

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Nikia Pratt

Nikia Pratt, George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan

Nikia Pratt had to perform quite the juggling act when he returned to school.

After a 16-year career managing various McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets in Regina, Pratt decided to become a student once again.

The 34-year-old is now in his second and final year of business administration studies at the Regina campus of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies.

Pratt, a member of George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, is also thrilled that he was a recent recipient of $10,000, part of the Indigenous Scholarship Program, delivered by Inspire, a national charitable organization that raises money and delivers programs across the country for Indigenous people.

Funding for the scholarship program was available via a partnership between the CIBC and the National Indigenous Economic Education Fund, Cando’s charitable organization.

A total of $44,000 in funding was available this year. Money was split among eight recipients.

Pratt was one of two individuals that received $10,000 each.

“It’s a huge stress reliever,” Pratt said of his scholarship. “When I first started school last year, I was still working 40-50 hours a week.”

Pratt maintained his full-time job at KFC in his first year back to school. But his scholarship money has allowed him to concentrate on his schooling now and not having to worry about working as well in order to pay his bills.

“Having the scholarship my stress levels are completely down,” he said. “And I can focus on my studies and academics.”

Should he choose to do so, Pratt said he can return to work while continuing his education.

“I’m still on KFC’s roster,” he said. “I can go back in any position and work some hours if I wanted to. But I’m just focusing on school now.”

Pratt said he was keen to explore other career options and that is why he opted to go back to school.

“I don’t want to go back into restaurant management,” he said, adding he is hoping to land with some sort of job in accounting or human resources.

Pratt added it has not been that difficult of a transition to be a student once again. He had not previously pursued any post-secondary schooling after graduating from high school in his late teens.

But Pratt did have plenty of learning opportunities in the years he worked for McDonald’s.

“I had gone to a lot of HR programs and leadership programs and accounting programs,” he said. “They invest a lot in your development.”

Though he is expected to graduate with a diploma this May from his current school, Pratt is also planning to continue his education.

He has applied to the First Nations University of Canada where he is hoping to further his business administration studies this coming September. He would need two additional years of studies at this school, also located in Regina, to earn a Bachelor’s degree.